State News

Hermitage Club fined for trail damage

By Mike Faher,

WILMINGTON – The owner of a private ski club must pay more than $72,700 for damaging three miles of trail in the Green Mountain National Forest, officials announced Tuesday, Oct. 20.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Vermont said James Barnes of Wilmington has agreed to pay $25,000 in civil fines and $47,761 in restitution for ordering work for The Hermitage Club on a portion of the Deerfield Ridge Trail in November 2012.

In addition to the project being unauthorized, federal officials said the work “was not done to professional standards and did not include sufficient soil stabilization,” resulting in the need for extensive repairs. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Perella said the trail was widened, and rock and dirt were moved “without adequate mitigation,” rendering the trail more prone to erosion.

This was the second time this year Hermitage has reached a settlement over environmental violations.

Bennington attorney David F. Silver, who represented Barnes and the Hermitage, said “this was a good-faith mistake based on a 30-year-old ski boundary area marked off by orange markers.” The work was aimed at providing “improved and safer trails for the local …  snowmobilers,” Silver wrote to VTDigger.

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